How Manchester City could line up next season

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Sports Mole looks at how Manchester City could line up for the 2020-21 season as they bid to close the gap to runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Manchester City's spending power means that they are usually linked to a host of big-money signings when transfer time comes around, and this summer has been no different.

Indeed, the apparent need for a significant rebuild at the Etihad Stadium in order to bridge the 25-point gap to Liverpool has heightened the speculation surrounding their possible targets as Pep Guardiola looks to take the club back to the top of English football.

However, while in recent times City have been able to promise both riches and playing at the highest level, their two-season European ban could affect their recruitment plans given that signings will know that they may not be playing Champions League football until 2022.

That is true of the players currently on the books too, and it is possible that some of City's star names could push for a move away despite Guardiola having already pledged his future to the club.

With all that in mind, Sports Mole has had a look at how the City team could look for the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

Perhaps the biggest question this summer will be who Man City will be able to keep, rather than who they will be able to bring in.

There are positive sounds emanating from the club regarding the futures of Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, both of whom are understood to be closing in on new contracts having agreed to stay despite a lack of Champions League football.

City are also reportedly confident that record goalscorer Sergio Aguero will stay too, and should that be the case then he would likely still be their first-choice striker ahead of Gabriel Jesus next term having scored 16 goals in 22 Premier League appearances this season.

Given the way the 2019-20 campaign has gone, any major surgery to the first-choice XI is most likely to come in defence; City never truly replaced Vincent Kompany last summer, and an injury-plagued campaign for Aymeric Laporte has highlighted their lack of depth in that area of the field.

Fernandinho has performed admirably as a makeshift centre-back, but he will be 35 in May and a new partner for Laporte is likely to be Guardiola's number one priority this summer with doubts remaining about John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi.

Inter Milan's Milan Skriniar is reportedly City's top choice and they could splash as much as £80m on his signature having failed with a £55m bid last summer.

Left-back has also been a problem area this season and Leicester City's Ben Chilwell appears to be a perfect fit for a position which Benjamin Mendy, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Angelino and Joao Cancelo have all had time in this term.

Cancelo has been linked with a move away, but if he stays he will renew his battle for the right-back spot with Kyle Walker; Walker is currently above the Portuguese full-back in the pecking order, but the England international will turn 30 in May and Guardiola often likes to give foreign signings a bit of time before edging them into his starting XI on a more regular basis.

One of the questions for Man City to solve will be how to replace David Silva, who has not featured quite as regularly this term as in previous seasons but whose impact behind the scenes could be missed every bit as much as that of Kompany.

Guardiola appears to have a ready-made replacement in the shape of Phil Foden, who is bound to get more first-team chances next season, although they have regularly been linked with midfield reinforcements too.

Lyon's Houssem Aouar is one of the names to have been mentioned as a Silva replacement, and he is likely to be available for much less than another reported target Saul Niguez.

Ilkay Gundogan will provide further competition in that area of the field, while Bernardo Silva has played there regularly too - although with both Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez linked with exits it could be that the Portugal international is used more in the attacking trio next season.

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